FASTEST BALIES GATHER FOR BALL BEAR­ING’S 80TH

The Witness - Wheels - - RACING -

DE­SPITE be­ing a very com­pet­i­tive top racer in South Africa, Keith Ber­ring­ton- Smith some­how man­aged not to make any en­e­mies on — or off — the track.

The div­i­dend of this rare gen­tle­manly trait could be seen when friends from rac­ing days gath­ered from all over South Africa to cel­e­brate his 80th birth­day.

The party was or­gan­ised by his son Steve at the old Roy Hes­keth race track in Hay­fields, where the name Ber­ring­ton- Smith, aka “Ball Bear­ing”, aka “Rat Trap”, had fea­tured top of the point lists many times un­til the early 70s.

The rac­ing lu­mi­nar­ies at the party in­cluded John Truter, Ray Emond, John Rowe, Mike Grant, Al­fie Cox, Pat Duck­ham, Des Zank , Grenville Man­ton, Chappy Wicks, Peter Ekerold, Alan Northall and side car cham­pion rid­ers, brothers Den­nis and Ronny Bosman.

Asked when the birth­day boy would ar­rive, Steve said “that would be my old man now” as a stock- stan­dard old 1.6 Toy­ota Corolla could be heard scream­ing around Quarry Cor­ner into the straight. For­mer chair of the KZN race car club and “al­ways a race or­gan­iser” Ge­off Min­naar told Wheels “the old nut [ Keith] was al­ways unas­sum­ing and an ab­so­lute gent, never one to kick the cat”.

Of­fi­cial of many a race, Charles Pratt said in his opin­ion the man called Ball Bear­ing was not re­ally hu­man. “I’m sure he was man­u­fac­tured, for if it rolled on wheels, he could race it.” Pratt re­called one en­durance race dur­ing which Keith even fell asleep on the straight. “When he got hit from be­hind he awoke and still left the field stand­ing.”

His son, Wayne, part­ner at West­die Mo­tor­cu­cles and as tough a bouncer as ever watched over a night­club’s door in his youth, had to swal­low away the tears while read­ing the heart­felt let­ter from brother Bobby in New Zealand.

Keith thanked all the “old bas­tards” for trav­el­ling far from all over SA to gather at Hes­keth on the in­vi­ta­tion of his sons, as well as Cap­i­tal Kitchens for spon­sor­ing the party.

PHO­TOS: MATTHEW MAR­SHALL

The cream of KZN’s old rac­ers gath­ered to mark the 80th birth­day of Keith Ber­ring­ton- Smith at the Hes­keth Race Track on Satur­day. Two cakes had to be baked to ac­com­mo­date all the can­dles, around which are ( from left) the Ber­ring­ton- Smiths — Sharon, Steve and Keith, long­time clerk of the course Ju­lian Lurie with ex- rac­ers Rob­bie Ash and John Truter, now on a cane. To their right are son Wayne and Greg Ter Vol­beek, with grand­chil­dren Ryan and Todd flank­ing grandma Mar­lene. • ( Right) Wheels editor Al­wyn Viljoen presents Keith Ber­ring­ton- Smith with a paint­ing by Gor­don Davies of the old rac­ing cir­cuit around Alexandra Park in Pi­eter­mar­itzburg. Keith said was too young to have raced there, but did go to watch.

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